Should you use studded tyres when cycling on ice or snow? Yes – but only if it’s proper ice or snow at least as deep or thick as the length of tyre’s studs. On cross country it’s almost obligatory. Don’t take your studs onto an ice rink unless you have the owner’s permission. We’re looking at you, Canada…
If your bike has disc brakes, you can use cable ties wrapped around the rim and tyre with the “stud” on the tyre side. If you’re riding on slicks, this will give you more grip on the ice for a fraction of the cost of studded tyres. When the ice thaws you can cut them off – no need to change your tyres!
Plan your route
If you’re travelling on gritted roads with minimal ice, studs offer less control than naked tyres. Think about your route, and if you’re going on well-travelled motor routes, leave the studs off your bike. In the sections that are too icy for your bike, get off and push until you reach the next thawed or salted segment.
Deflate your tyres
Increase your tyre’s surface contact with the road by deflating your tyres slightly. This will give you more purchase and smooth out your acceleration and braking. Lower pressure tyres may not perform so well in corners so remember…
Corner with care
Go slow for corners by looking ahead and braking early on the straight. Avoid using your front brake in icy conditions – your back brake gives you greater control. Taking a spill on icy tarmac is best avoided.
Lower your saddle slightly
By lowering your saddle you’ll give your thighs a real workout even at lower speeds. Just think of the gains you’re making for the spring thaw. You’ll also lower your centre of gravity and improve your balance on unpredictable surfaces.
Chill out and take it easy on the Pepsi
In icy conditions it’s a lot easier to lose control of a bike than a car. Keep yourself relaxed, don’t suddenly brake, turn, or accelerate. Give yourself twice as long to get anywhere – follow all rules of the road that apply whether you’re travelling by 2 wheels, 4 wheels, or by foot.
Be realistic about safety
Regardless of where you stand on the Great Helmet Debate, if there’s ever a time to don the skull lid of shame, it’s when you’re cycling on ice. Cycle safe, people, and enjoy the challenge of cycling on ice.